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S/O Do you Spend Equally on Each Child for Holiday Gifts?


Ravin
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How do you allocate gift spending for your children?  

140 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you spend on holiday gifts for your children?

    • Must keep it equal!
      28
    • I focus on getting them what they most want (within our means/reason) regardless of whether what one child wants is more expensive.
      40
    • I will spend more on an older child because their wants tend to be more expensive and/or the youngers don't know the difference (or other reason).
      16
    • I will spend more on younger children because older children are not as fun/harder to choose gifts for (or other reason)
      0
    • I buy shared gifts so it's not a factor.
      1
    • I focus on making sure they have the same number of gifts regardless of the value of the individual gifts.
      39
    • We don't do gifts for any holidays.
      1
    • I have never given this any thought and have no idea what my holiday spending habits are.
      3
    • Obligatory other choice.
      12


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Something someone said on the "naughty list" thread sparked this question.

 

I have a friend who is very scrupulous about this, to the point of throwing a fit when a child decided she didn't like something she had picked out for her (not knowing about it, mind you--it was an Aladdin doll and she had bought it and has it stashed and her DD mentioned she doesn't like Aladdin all that much). But the thing that mainly made her upset was that she tries very hard to spend about equally on her girls (who are about 4 years apart in age), and if she didn't give her DD this gift, it would throw the balance off.

 

My kids are 7 years apart, and a boy and a girl. They tend to want very different things, and I figure DD had 7 years' worth of gifts ahead of DS, so the sheets would never be balanced anyway. I try and focus on getting what they really want (within reason) rather than on price tags.

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I try to keep things equal, more or less, but I don't stress about it.  This year my younger son is getting a 3D printer, which is way more than we normally spend.  But my husband thinks he will be able to use it in his job, too, so we're kind of stretching the limits.  I'll get my older son some nicer gifts this year, too, but it won't be enough to equal the cost of the 3D printer.  I figure some years the older son gets a bit more.  Most years I try to have approximately the same number of gifts, but my younger son understands he won't have as many this year due to the 3D printer. 

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I don't at all consider the prices. I think about what each child wants/needs. We also like to keep the number of gifts even and for the last couple of years we've done the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read" which makes it easy.

 

I do find it tricky because oldest dd and ds need a lot of clothes and middle dd doesn't because of all the hand me downs from big sis.

 

Some years one of the kids will get a much more expensive gift than another but usually what goes around comes around and nobody is upset. Generally the value is similar but I'm certainly not adding things up to make sure.

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No, not money. I try to get things they'll be equally as excited about though. Like this year I considered getting one son a kano computer kit and anoth four dragon figurines. The price diff would be huge, but the enjoyment from each would be equal, with happiness being at 100% for each.

 

I did not end up doing that, in favor of a big hape (or haba?) marbel run for them to share, but that was my thought process at first.

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The boys are 2.5 years apart and want the same kind of stuff.  Games for their electronic devices, lego, action figures.  Because of that, it's been easy to pick a $ amount and stick to it.  It's not like one boy wants super expensive stuff and the other boy doesn't. 

 

I think, for now, we'll stick with dollar amounts since the things they want all cost about the same. 

 

But...there's no rule around here.  It has always worked out that since they like the same sort of stuff, they end up getting roughly the same number of gifts. 

 

I would feel uneasy about going by dollar if one kid got just one present and the other got 15.  Then it might feel odd and I'd try to even out the number.

 

Edited by Garga
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I voted "other."  I shop year round for the kids and find may things on clearance or sale plus I use coupons and store rewards.  I try to keep the value of the gifts to be about the same, but the cost to me may vary widely depending on what they have asked for or I have found. 

 

I'm sorry your friend was upset.  When I buy something that later falls out of favor before I can gift it, I donate it to Toys for Tots. 

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I do not. I like to have somewhere around the same number of gifts to open though. At least for the older two. But I don't care about equitable spending at all. I care about them each getting things they enjoy. I've always been pretty severe about not looking at your neighbor's plate to make sure you got your fair share though. If I buy one kid new pajamas at the store, I do not buy something for everyone just so things are equal. Everyone gets what they need.

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No. I do try to keep the number of gifts equal but I can't keep the price the same. We spent more on youngest this year because of the type of art supplies she uses. She's talented and has moved beyond beginner and kids sets so the good ones are pricey. Oldest didn't want anything that was expensive at all but she will still be happy with her things. The price is way off this year though. Other years it's been oldest with the more expensive gifts so I feel it evens out.

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I focus on what they want rather than price. This year I spent 18 dollars on dd5, and 18 dollars in ds2, but 40 dollars on ds7. This was because I found the 2 gifts used so significantly cheaper. Dd's gift is a dollhouse which would have cost double the 40 I spent on ds7 if I bought it new. All 3 gifts are what the kids really wanted so we're set.

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Mine are boy and girl, four years apart.  When they were younger, we tried some keep a general balance between money spent and number of gifts to open.

 

Now one is in college, and I'm not so concerned about balance.  However, it's important to me that we don't spend *more* on her than my son, because we're already footing a large portion of her college expenses. It's nice to not have any sort of pressure, haha.

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"Obligatory other" here. I try to keep it pretty much even but it is a mix of value/number of gifts.

 

This year older ds's wishes are a lot more expensive (well, he is getting a smartphone). So younger ds will get a couple more gifts but the value will still be less (luckily for my bank account). I am trying to get a happy medium where both will get about the same value out of the gifts (obviously you can spend more time with a new phone than with a single jigsaw puzzle) but the disparity in the number of gifts isn't too shocking (as younger ds could probably get 20 presents for what the phone costs).

 

The goal is of course to make both kids happy and ensure neither one will feel slighted...

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Each year we set our per person budget limit based on our current finances and we don't spend over that amount.  That's what budgets are for.  We spend very close to the same amount for each kid because I'm not going to quibble over a few dollars here or there. One year when things were especially tight my husband and I didn't include ourselves in the per person budget.  We did a couple of inexpensive stocking stuffers for ourselves and divided all the rest of the budgeted money evenly for the kids' presents.

Some years the older kids want cash because they're saving up for something beyond our budget. (Lap top, trip to the snow with friends, etc.)  Sometimes one wants a single, pricier gift that takes up their budgeted limit.  Sometimes one or two of them want several less expensive things that fit within the budget. They give us a list and we make sure they've prioritized the list so we can get them as much as we can what they want most, or at least their budgeted amount in cash so they can save up for it if that's their preference. My side of the family always asks ahead of time if they would prefer a gift to open or cash.  Different years different kids give different answers. We're OK with that.

If it were up to me, Christmas would be more like Thanksgiving with it's traditions, food, friends and family plus a church service and advent activities.  It wouldn't be a gift giving event, but I'm not Queen of the World... yet....still waiting......

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I am sure one's past would dictate how they do this for their own kids.  I budget equal amounts.  It might be off by $20, but usually they both get equal value presents.  We also do 3 presents.  But like this year, DD is getting a big present and two tiny things b/c her big one is really almost all her budgeted amount.  One year I had to up the birthday amount for one kid, so the next kid got a big present as well.  We decided it was a 13th birthday....and now I just need to remember that when the other turns 13.  :)

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When my kids were younger, I tried to keep the  number of gifts equal but money was not so important to me. They didn't know how much gifts cost!

 

Now they are teens and my concern is that we don't create resentment/feeling of favoritism.  So far we have had no problems, maybe because we didn't make a big deal out of gifts when they were young? 

 

Last year we found a great deal on a camera for our daughter. She had been saving up for one.  The camera was out of our budget so we asked her to go halves with us.  She was ecstatic.  We told our son the deal and that he should not expect anything anywhere near equal, even to our half.  He was all "duh" about that.  He knew she really wanted that camera and he didn't want anything comparable.  I don't remember what we did give him! 

 

This year he needs a smart phone.  He and my daughter both have stick (?) phones and he needs more functionality (apps for ADHD and exec function skills, among other things).  I mentioned it to my daughter and she said "yeah, I'm glad you're finally getting him a phone.  Mine's fine." 

 

 

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I try to keep the number of gifts the same with roughly equal value. So the budget doesn't end up exact, but not a large gap, either. For my kids at least, number and size of gifts is more noticeable than price tag. DD7 ended up asking santa for something that we hadn't counted on. It's the first time she's actually went to santa so we wanted to make sure she got it. We did end up getting something of roughly equal value for DD3. It would upset the 7yo if she had more than her little sister. Little one probably wouldn't notice. I haven't done a final $ tally, but I think the totals are pretty close. For birthdays we go by budget since there won't be piles of presents next to each other to notice obvious number or size differences.

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We more or less spend equally but we're not dogmatic about it. Neither of my kids has ever wanted one particular item so badly we felt obligated to buy it over everything else. If that happened, we'd take it into consideration. As it is, we pick and choose a combination of things they've asked for, things they need, and things we think they will enjoy until we've met the budget for each child.

 

DD asked for a Wii U this year, and we did decide not to go that route, partly because it would have eaten up our entire budget for her gifts, and partly because we don't feel like we need any more devices in our house that encourage us to sit around and stare at a screen. She may be slightly disappointed, but I think she would have been more disappointed if that was the only item she received.

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At this age, my kids have no idea how much things cost or what a dollar is worth. But they CAN count to ten and will notice if one person got 4 gifts and someone else got 6. So I voted that I focus on the number of gifts regardless of price.

 

But as they get older, I could see offering a "trade" with an older child who wants a more expensive item in exchange for a lesser number of gifts.

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I like them to have about the same number of gifts to unwrap, and I like to spend about the same amount of money, but there is no hard and fast rule here.  They have different likes and wants, and so it's really not that big of a deal.

 

My eldest would have had fewer gifts to unwrap this year but her "big" gift is cash, so I'm just dividing it out into several boxes to give her more things to unwrap!  

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We have never been equal on the number of gifts or how much we spend.  None of them would (could) keep track of how much we spent on them and they know that if they want something expensive, they'll get fewer gifts. Some years we do almost no gifts, some years we do family gifts.  The stocking are always similar though, but I just go to the grocery store a couple of days before Christmas and buy three of different treats they like to make it easy.

 

But since it doesn't seem to be uncommon to think about this, I went and asked my 15yo if he's ever wondered about this.  He said he has never felt like someone else is getting favored.  My 16yo would never think about it and my 8yo might notice if someone got more gifts than he did, but he's so much younger than the other two that will never happen.

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I make sure each child has the same number of gifts to open, regardless of amount. My kids do share a lot of things because they are twins. I mark gifts as shared, but either child a or b will open that shared gift so they are still equal in presents. I try to make sure each child has at least one thing he has really been hoping to get.

 

.

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I focus on what will make each kid happy.  That said, since my kids are about the same age, having an obviously lopsided gift list will not make them happy.  :P  So I also try for balance.  At this point they do not necessarily notice if I spend more on this game or that dress, but they will notice if one of them gets fewer cool things.

 

Last year, I didn't have a lot of good ideas for my eldest.  I got her some dolls and books like her sister.  But she was kind of offended, because she doesn't care much for dolls and books.  :/  The only thing I got that was unique to her was some walkie-talkies that she had wanted (and she couldn't figure out how to work them).  I pointed out that she did get what she asked for.  :P  This year I think I did a better job.

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I try to keep it roughly equal, but if there's some extenuating circumstance that means one child's total was higher, I don't sweat it. For example, oldest DD is getting a new phone for Christmas, and that bumped her total up a fair bit. But the reason she's getting a new phone is because her current one is my old one, and it now crashes totally when a phone call comes in or goes out. This completely negates the point of her having a phone, which is primarily (but not entirely!) for safety purposes. Giving it to her for Christmas saves us money because we would have gotten her a new phone anyway, but it does drive up her total gift amount. Youngest DD won't notice or care. 

 

I definitely don't worry about it to the extent that your friend did!

Edited by ILiveInFlipFlops
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When they were younger, I wanted them to have close to the same number of gifts, and spend close to the same on each (within $30-40, so one might have been $150, the other $180, but nothing signfificantly different). Now that they are older, the spread can be bigger but it's not always the same kid who gets more. For example, last year, one ds was moving out so we got him a new tv and blu ray in addition to the normal games, books, etc. Other kid didn't really need anything big that year. Older kid doesn't live here anymore and I'm mostly give him money but did send him a care package with cookies and such in it. Younger is getting a new laptop because his is "aged" and it's time, so he'll have more spent on him this year than older. Just sort of varies.

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6-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl here. I'm more concerned with the # they open being roughly equal rather than the $ amount. DS wants things like Lego & Lego Dimensions characters, My Little Pony figures, etc. DD has tons of age-appropriate hand-me-down toys (that were often used when DS got them) and has simpler wishes like cute socks, puzzles, stuffed animals, etc. I spend less on her at this point and no one notices or cares. When he was little I spent less on him too, as I was more likely to pick up toys at thrift stores year-round. I figure it will all even out eventually once she's a bit older and discovers the American Girl catalog ;).

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We take turns opening gifts so we've tried to keep the number pretty similar. Not exactly the same, but I don't want to end up with a kid being finished opening gifts and the other kid still having five more to open. 

 

If I tried to keep the dollar amount the same, I'd have to decide how to work sales into the calculation...if I bought a gift for each kid but one gift was full price and the other I found on sale half off...well, are they the same 'value' or not? I track my spending but having to track how much I saved just adds more work.  

 

I don't think keeping # of gifts equal is any better than keeping amount spent the same. It's just what was easiest for us.  The holiday season can be stressful enough that I do whatever I can to make it simpler.   

 

 

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Well, even if I tried to keep it equal when they opened gifts from their siblings things would quickly get out of whack but I suppose they know it's from their siblings.

 

I don't think my children keep track. Half the time they are more excited about the others opening the gift they got them then they are opening their own gift. My third child keeps asking if my fourth child can open the gift he got him since he put under the tree a few days ago. He is sure he can earn money to buy him another little gift for Christmas.

 

I usually try to keep the numbers the same because we open things one at a time so we can all watch people receive stuff but now that everyone is buying for everyone it gets confusing. Sometimes that extra thing is as simple as coconut milk so my son can make Thai tea or a simple art supply item or a book.

Edited by frogger
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Mine are twins and both boys so it feels to me like I need to be pretty equal. This is the first year they've been old enough that they want almost totally different things. It hasn't been super easy, but I made at least an effort. As they get older, I'm okay if it's not perfectly even. My boys have a thing about being equal. Like, if I'm out with one of them and get him a treat like an ice cream or a cookie or something, then both get worried that the other didn't get one. What I've told them is that if they could stack up all the cookies they got as treats during some one on one time or another, that the stacks would be super tall and would come out to be within a few cookies of each other. Not 100% exact equal but close enough that no one would be upset. I think it's the same for presents. Now that we're doing fewer together things, I'm sure there will be differences but the amounts will be equal over time, especially if I keep that in mind.

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We try not to be too nutty about it, but we like it to appear roughly equal. We try to balance number of gifts and prices, but we might group smaller items together as one big gift, if, for instance, one child got several small things and the other got one bigger item that's roughly comparable (box of individual art supplies bundled together vs. one lego set--assuming both are "fun" items for the children receiving them). We aren't going to get one kid a bunch of clothes and the other "fun" stuff unless that is what the child has requested. As they age, I assume that their interests and tastes will change enough that our idea of comparable will change too. 

 

If we were to purchase a larger gift for one child because it was requested, we'd try to find a way for that child to have more stuff to open without buying superfluous stuff because it's fun to open more stuff. In that case, they might get some fun necessities wrapped up--inexpensive accessories or an upgrade to an everyday item, for instance. So far, my older son is the one most likely to want a big ticket item, but he also edits his list so that he doesn't get just one big present from anyone. It totally cracks me up, but I love that he knows he'll be disappointed if he gets fewer presents than his brother. I think it's awesome that he can recognize that characteristic, even if I would rather buy him fewer but more sophisticated gifts. That will probably come in time.

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My kids are still a little fuzzy on value although DD would understand if I said she got less gifts because hers were more expensive. Usually if I have gotten them what they wanted they don't keep count...they are satisfied with what they get.

 

I have to be careful with my middle DS as he doesn't care for toys or things really so it can be hard to choose gifts for him and therefore he is always in danger of getting less things as he just doesnt really play with things he gets. Being in the middle and easy to please he often doesn't get his choices during the year over the other two who have very definate ideas and are less willing to concede... so at Christmas I always try to make sure his gifts are equal in value and amount especially because I don't want him feeling he always gets the short end of the stick KWIM.

 

In general I have to watch I don't go crazy overboard with DD ( I love buying girly things and shes my only one) and with DS6 ( he is my toy lover and always has a list 10 feet long of things he wants).

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As a teenager, I once got an envelope for something like $4.32 -- because that's how much more my mom spent on my brother and sister than on me.   :lol:

 

 

I try to keep the number of gifts about even.  With 5 boys and 1 girl, we spend more individually on ds because most of the dds will share presents.

 

 

 

edited: because of and on are not the same word.  

Edited by Junie
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There's no choice for "I have one child".

 

In my family of growing up, the tradition was that we sit in a circle and each child takes a turn opening a stocking gift, and then later we sit around the tree and do the same thing with kids and adults and gifts from each other.  So, it would have been super obvious if one person got more gifts than another.  My parents were pretty flexible with how they wrapped things (e.g. a drawing pad and markers can be one thing or two.  A multipack of hotwheels can be one or many), but we always had the same number.  

 

I think I'd probably do the same thing if I had more than one kid.  

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There wasn't a perfect answer for me but I voted even. The gifts are more or less even. Not perfectly. Even in number and even in the grand total spent. However not each gifts is equal. For instance, kid one might get a $40 pair of shoes, a $10 t-shirt, and a $10 sketchbook. Kid two might get a $30 computer game, a $25 dress, and a $5 pair of earrings.

 

I definitely spend less on the baby. :) She doesn't keep track and her stuff is cheaper.

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